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Bible Commentaries
Acts 2

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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Introduction

The following chapter contains the information that is literally the pivotal point for the advancement of Christianity. The promised coming of the Holy Spirit in a baptismal measure, the preaching of the gospel, the conversion of the 3000, and the establishment of the Lord’s church are all found in this dramatic chapter. This chapter marks the beginning of a monumental effort to convert the whole world.

Verse 1

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come: The feast of Pentecost is known in the Old Testament as the "feast of weeks" (Exodus 34:22) or the "feast of harvest" (Exodus 23:16). This feast became known in New Testament times simply as the "feast of Pentecost" because the feast was observed fifty days after the first sabbath following the "feast of the passover" (Leviticus 23:15-16). The word "Pentecost" literally means "fiftieth" (The New Analytical Greek Lexicon 319). This calculation sounds complicated, but really it is not. To determine "Pentecost," one begins to count on the "morrow after the sabbath" and counts until "seven sabbaths be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days" (Leviticus 23:15-16). The sabbath under consideration is the weekly sabbath or the seventh day (Saturday). The count begins on the "morrow" (day) after the "sabbath" and goes fifty days, even to the "morrow after the seventh sabbath." The morrow after the "sabbath," is the first day or Sunday. Thus, the "day of Pentecost" comes on the "first day of the week" or the day we call Sunday.

McGarvey makes the following comment:

The day of Pentecost was the fiftieth day after the sabbath of the passover week; and as the count commenced on the day after the sabbath, it also ended on the same day of the week, or our Sunday. The commentators in general, misled by Josephus, represent the fifty days as being counted from "the second day of unleavened bread, which is the sixteenth day of the month" (Ant.iii.10.5). If this were correct the first of the fifty, and consequently the last, might fall on any day of the week. But the enacting clause in the law reads as follows:"And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall there be complete; even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meal offering unto the Lord" (Lev. xxiii. 15, 16). This language is not easily misunderstood; for if even in the first clause, the words "from the morrow after the sabbath" could be construed as meaning from the morrow after the first day of unleavened bread, the latter part of the sentence precludes such a construction; for the count was to be "unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath," and the word sabbath here unquestionably means a weekly sabbath; and if the fiftieth day was the morrow after the weekly sabbath, then the first must also have been the morrow after the weekly sabbath. That it was is further proved by the terms of the law, fixing the day of offering the sheaf or the wave offering:"And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it" (Lev. xxii.11) (19-20).

A more opportune day could not have been chosen for the establishment of the Lord’s church. On the feast of Pentecost, there are probably more Jews in Jerusalem than at any other time. This day, being the first day of the week, is the day Jesus is resurrected from the grave (Mark 16:9). All things are now ready for the coming "kingdom of heaven."

they were all with one accord: It is important to determine who "they" are because these are the ones who will receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit."There are at least three different ideas as to who "they" might be. Some would say "they," who receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, include the apostles, the 120 disciples, plus several thousand Jews who become involved in this event. Others tell us "they" are the apostles plus the 120 disciples who are waiting in the upper room. Neither of these ideas is correct. To determine who "they" are, all one must do is to back up to the last verse of chapter one and read through the first verse of chapter two.

And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon MATTHIAS; and he was numbered with the ELEVEN APOSTLES. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, THEY were all with one accord in one place (emphasis mine-J H).

From this reading it is plain to see that "they" refers to Matthias, the new apostle, and the eleven original apostles. After all, the apostles are the ones to whom the Holy Spirit is promised. It should also be remembered the original manuscript is not divided into chapters and verses; therefore, there would have been no confusion to early readers of Luke’s account (see notes on 1:8.)

in one place: It cannot be determined for certain where the disciples are gathered. Most likely they are in a room in or near the temple.

Verse 2

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven: The apostles have been waiting for the fulfillment of the "promise of my Father" and now, with a blast of noise from heaven, the promise is fulfilled: the Holy Spirit falls upon them.

as of a rushing mighty wind: There is no indication there is a "rushing mighty wind," rather the "sound" is like a "rushing mighty wind." Perhaps the sound is like the roar of a tornado or the noise associated with a violent wind.

and it filled all the house where they were sitting: The sound is heard throughout the house where the apostles are gathered.

Verse 3

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

And there appeared unto them: We must remember these events are happening to the apostles. They have heard the noise, now they see "cloven tongues like as of fire."

cloven tongues: The word "cloven," as used here, does not indicate the idea of forked, as one might usually think, but rather "to divide into parts and distribute" (The New Analytical Greek Lexicon 94). The "tongues" divide into parts and distribute themselves among the apostles.

like as of fire: These "tongues" are not actual fire but have the appearance of brilliant "tongues" of fire.

and it sat upon each of them: This visible manifestation of the coming of the Holy Spirit rests upon each of the apostles.

Verse 4

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And they:"They" indicates the apostles.

were all filled with the Holy Ghost: The apostles have now experienced the sound of the "rushing mighty wind." They have seen the "tongues as of fire." They are now immersed in the influence and power of the Holy Spirit. This experience is the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit as Jesus promises them in chapter one verse 5. To be "filled with the Holy Ghost" indicates the apostles are "filled mentally, or under the full influence" of the Holy Spirit (Analytical Greek Lexicon 332). The promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of power is now fulfilled. The apostles are now divinely empowered to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to "all nations."

and began to speak with other tongues: The initial sign of this divine "power" is the ability to speak in "other tongues." "Other tongues" are languages "strictly different from their native tongues ..." (Vincent 449). There are those today who claim they have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the ability to speak in "tongues." These "modern tongues" are not even akin to the "tongues" of the Bible. It must be remembered the "other tongues" of our text and the "unknown tongues" of 1 Corinthians 14 are always referring to foreign languages. To illustrate, if I begin to speak in Russian, a language I do not know, it would be for me an "other tongue." I would suspect, for the majority of the readers, it would be an "unknown tongue" because they would not understand what I said. Our modern day "tongue" speakers rattle around in a nervous gibberish that has no interpretation whatsoever. When confronted with their scriptural inconsistencies, they will claim they are speaking in the "tongues of angels" or a "heavenly language!"

as the Spirit gave them utterance: The Holy Spirit gives the apostles this ability to speak in foreign languages. Literally, the "promise" is fulfilled at this point. Jesus says, "For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you" (Matthew 10:20). The miraculous ability to speak in "tongues" is necessary for a group of uneducated apostles to preach to "all nations." When the gospel is completely revealed and written down, "that which was perfect had come; "the need for the miraculous ability to speak in foreign languages "ceased" (1 Corinthians 13:8). This task had been accomplished by the close of the first century.

Verse 5

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews: At this time, because of the feast of Pentecost, there is a large number of Jews gathered in Jerusalem.

devout men: As might be expected, those who would make the effort to gather for this feast are pious, religious men. It is these prudent, circumspect men of the Old Testament who will have the first opportunity to hear the gospel of Christ.

out of every nation under heaven: The Jewish nation is widely scattered throughout the world at this time; but, because of this great feast, many have made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Jews are present from "every nation under heaven."

Verse 6

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

Now when this was noised abroad: The news of the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles spreads quickly among the Jews.

the multitude came together: These Jews from "every nation under the sun" are now gathered in one huge audience. The stage is set for the initial preaching of the gospel of Christ.

and were confounded: The news of the events surrounding the coming of the Holy Spirit causes the Jews to become agitated or stirred up. They are in a state of confusion as to the meaning of what has transpired.

because that every man heard them speak in his own language: As we will find out in the next verse, one of the specific reasons for the Jews’ being "confounded" is that they hear these uneducated, Galilaean men speak to them in their own language. The word used here for "language" is also translated "dialect" or "tongue" (Vine, Vol. II 309).

For some there is a question as to whether the miracle was in the hearing or in the speaking. It must be remembered the apostles are the ones empowered to perform wonders; therefore, the miracle is in the speaking. Peter does not speak in some "generic" language that everyone hears in his own language. Evidently all of the apostles are speaking as the multitude hears "them speak" in their own tongues.

Verse 7

And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

And they were all amazed and marvelled: By using two different Greek words to describe the consternation of this group of Jews, the divinely inspired writer allows us to see the thought process of these people. The word "amazed" describes their initial surprise at the events, while "marvelled" indicates their continuing to think on what has happened. Vincent says the "latter word, ’marvelled’ denotes the continuing wonder, meaning to regard with amazement and with a suggestion of beginning to speculate on the matter" (450).

saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans: The Jews in this assembly realize the apostles are from Galilee; thus, they are Galilaeans, who are blamed for neglecting the study of their language and charged with errors in grammar and ridiculous mispronunciations (Vincent 450). The Apostle Peter is recognized as a "Galilaean" because of his language (Mark 14:70). Now, to the marvel and amazement of these Jews, these "Galilaeans" speak fluently in many different languages. We also would make this note: it further speaks to the power and glory of God that the glorious gospel will be entrusted into the hands of men who are not known for education or eloquence. The Apostle Paul says, "we have this power in earthen vessels" (2 Corinthians 4:7). May we never forget the power is in the message, not the messenger.

Verse 8

And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

These Jews are from "every nation under the sun, " so by necessity they speak many different languages and dialects. To their great surprise, they hear "Galilaeans" speak to them in their own native language. The word "tongue, " as mentioned earlier, means language.

Verse 9

Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

The countries represented by these Jews are enumerated in geographical order, beginning in the far east and proceeding to the west. These different geographical areas embrace many different dialects and languages.

Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites: These countries represent parts of the Persian empire. These people live east beyond the Tigris River.

and the dwellers in Mesopotamia: Mesopotamia is a Greek word meaning between the rivers (Barnes 379). This region lies between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Hundreds of Jews had been taken there during the Babylonian captivity.

and in Judaea: The writer, by necessity, mentions the country of Judaea since these nations are represented as "every nation under the sun."

and Cappadocia: This country is located in the southeast portion of the area now referred to as Asia Minor.

in Pontus: Pontus is in the northeast portion of Asia Minor bordering the Black Sea.

and Asia: The term "Asia" is used to describe the areas not specifically mentioned. It may also be noted that this area is known as the Middle East today.

Verse 10

Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

Phrygia, and Pamphylia: These two provinces are also a part of Asia Minor.

in Egypt: Egypt is an extensive and once powerful country in north Africa, bounded on the north by the Mediterranean Sea. Large numbers of Jews live in Egypt. Two-fifths of the population of Alexandria is said to have been Jews (Vincent 451). It is here that the first translation of the Old Testament into Greek is made. This translation is called the Septuagint.

and in the parts of Libya: Libya is a name given to the area west of Egypt. The Greeks often refer to all of Africa as Libya.

about Cyrene: Cyrene is a region that lies about 500 miles west of Alexandria, Egypt.

and strangers of Rome: These "strangers of Rome" are Roman citizens who live in and about Jerusalem for business purposes.

Jews: These are Roman citizens, born of Jewish parents.

and proselytes: This reference is to Roman citizens dwelling at Jerusalem, having been converted to the Jewish religion.

Verse 11

Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

Cretes: Jews from Crete, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, are gathered in Jerusalem for the celebration of Pentecost.

and Arabians: Arabia is the large peninsula of land bounded on the west by the Red Sea, on the south by the Indian Ocean, on the east by the Euphrates River, and on the north by Syria.

we do hear them speak in our tongues: In spite of the many different languages and dialects represented at this gathering, each hears his own "tongue" (language) spoken. Judging by the number of countries represented, there are at least seven different languages spoken and numerous dialects of those languages.

the wonderful works of God: The apostles declare the great and mighty things that God has done.

Verse 12

And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

And they were all amazed: The events just witnessed by these Jews have truly been amazing to them. Actually, they are unsure as to the meaning of what they have seen and heard.

and were in doubt: The people are confounded. This expression denotes the hesitancy with which the crowd accepts what they are seeing. The Revised Standard Version renders the word "doubt" as "perplexed."

saying one to another: They begin to ask among themselves for an explanation.

What meaneth this: The question on everyone’s lips is "What do these events signify?" The Jews must feel they have witnessed an omen of things to come. They want an explanation.

Verse 13

Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

Others mocking said: As is often the case, when humans are confronted with things about which they are ignorant there are those who would dismiss the happenings by ridicule. They accuse the apostles of being drunk. Mockery, derision, sneering, and scoffing are tools of the devil used to profane holy things. These tools are often used to deter otherwise good men from believing and obeying the truth.

These men are full of new wine: The accusation is that the apostles are drunk on "new wine." The Greek word, "Gleukos denotes sweet ’new wine, ’ or must; the accusation shows it is intoxicating and must have been undergoing fermentation for some time" (Vine Vol. IV 219).

Verse 14

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them: The Apostle Peter, spokesman for the eleven other apostles and holder of the "keys to the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 16:19), stands up to deliver a sermon that is literally to change the course of the world. For the first time in all of history, the glorious gospel of Christ is to be declared to the world. The plan, conceived in the mind of God before the foundation of the world, is to be made public. Men will be told of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and they will be given instruction on the salvation of their souls.

The expression "keys to the kingdom of heaven" means the gospel of Christ. The gospel is the means of entering into the kingdom. Peter uses the "keys" first for the Jews here in Acts 2. Later he is called upon to use the "keys" to open the kingdom to the Gentiles in Acts 10. What a great privilege it was to be the first to preach the gospel of Christ to both Jews and Gentiles.

Ye men of Judaea, and all that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: Peter, in a very respectful way, addresses the large assembly of native Judeans as well as the visitors in the city for the Feast of Pentecost. He asks for their attention that the message he has for them may be made known.

Verse 15

For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

After the amazing series of events the multitude has witnessed, especially the speaking in tongues, some would dismiss this happening as the result of drunkenness. Peter flatly denies the possibility the apostles are drunk. It is but the "third hour." As the Jews counted time, that is about nine o’clock in the morning. This is the time for the morning prayers for the Jews, certainly not a time to be drunk. Also, Peter may have reasoned that men get drunk at night (1 Thessalonians 5:7), not at nine o’clock in the morning.

Verse 16

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

Peter now proceeds to tell his audience the real cause behind the events that have just transpired. He points these Jews to one of their own prophets, the prophet Joel.

Verse 17

And is shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God: The prophecy of Joel referred to by Peter is found in Joel 2:28-32. Joel makes the prediction of the events that Peter says are now beginning:"this is that."God through the Prophet Joel declares these things would "come to pass in the last days." "In the last days" is an expression referring to the Christian dispensation. The day of Pentecost marks the beginning of"the last days."We are living in"the last days"; we are not looking for another dispensation of time (note also Isaiah 2:2, Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20).

I will pour out of my Spirit: The Greek word for"pour" (ekcheo) is defined:"to bestow or distribute largely ... the abundant bestowal of the Holy Spirit" (Thayer 201-1- 1632).

This pouring out of the Holy Spirit by God upon"all flesh"is indicative of the beginning of the miraculous age of the Lord’s church. This age of miracles is necessary for the confirmation of God’s word with signs and wonders; for the inspiration necessary to preach while the gospel is being revealed; and, in general, for the establishment and sustaining of Christianity. This period of miracles is to last until"that which is perfect is come" (1 Corinthians 13:10). This passage indicates that when the New Testament, "the perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25), was completely revealed and written down, the need for miracles would"vanish away" (1 Corinthians 13:8).

upon all flesh: This concept of "all flesh" must be restricted. We are not to take the idea of "all flesh" to mean the Spirit of God is to be poured out on birds or animals (1 Corinthians 15:39). The concept must be restricted to human flesh, but even this interpretation has its limitations. The promise of Joel does not mean the Spirit of God will be "poured out" on wicked, unrepentant men. The Jews of this time recognize only two kinds of human flesh: Jews and Gentiles. The Jews, until now, have been the only ones who have enjoyed a special relationship with God. That arrangement is soon to change. The beginning of Joel’s promise starts on Pentecost with the "pouring out of God’s Spirit" upon the Jews as represented by the apostles when they are baptized with the Holy Spirit (2:1-4). Later the Spirit will be "poured out" upon the Gentiles, the household of Cornelius, when they also receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (11:15-17). The apostles and the household of Cornelius are the only ones in Biblical record who receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It now can be seen, from a Biblical perspective, "all flesh" means representatives of both Jews and Gentiles.

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: Joel now begins to mention other blessings that would come as a result of this pouring out of the Spirit. The term "prophesy" signifies the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God (Vine, Vol. III 221). To "see visions" and "dream dreams" are references to the ways in which God has revealed Himself to the prophets in times past. The indication is that God intends to continue to reveal His will to man, but now there will be no partiality as to Jew or Gentile, male or female, young or old, bond or free.

Verse 18

And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

The Holy Spirit, who brings these miraculous measures of power, will bless others with miraculous gifts such as the gift of prophecy. The reception of these gifts will be through the "laying on of the apostles’ hands" (8:18).

There are three points of interest in this quotation. The first deals with Joel’s promise of the outpouring of the Spirit. Joel is emphasizing that the blessings of the gospel age would be for all without any distinction. Under the Jewish age a clear distinction was made between Jew and Gentile, between man and woman, and between slave and free man. Joel, however, said the Spirit would be poured out on all people, that is without distinction between Jew and Gentile. The Spirit also would be poured without distinction of age (old men and young men), and without social distinction (servants). Joel’s prophecy contemplated the entire miraculous age of the church, when the apostles conferred miraculous spiritual gifts upon the ones mentioned in this prophecy (Doug Edwards 137-138).

Verses 19-20

And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

There is much speculation as to the events thus indicated. Is Joel describing a literal wonder that is to shake heaven and earth, or is this a fearful omen to describe the coming destruction of Jerusalem or even the end of time and the final judgment of men? All of these conclusions have some credibility.

Several of the most spectacular wonders ever seen on earth had occurred right there in Jerusalem the day Jesus was crucified only fifty-three days before Peter thus spoke. The very sun’s light failed; and, as it was the full moon, the satellite appeared as blood. Pontius Pilate wrote to the Emperor Tiberius that "The moon, being like blood, did not shine the whole night, and yet she happened to be at the full." Thus the sun and the moon were" wonders in heaven, "and the earthquake, the rending of the veil of the temple, and the resurrection of many of the dead, were signs on the earth beneath. ..."The blood and fire and vapor of smoke..."were spectacularly associated with every great Jewish feast, such as Passover or Pentecost. It is difficult for any modern to envision the sacrifice of a quarter of a million lambs and all of the blood and "vapor of smoke" that inevitably accompanied such an event (Coffman 46).

As noted, these "wonders and signs" may also be a grim prediction of the impending destruction of Jerusalem. In the year 70 A.D., the Roman legions would fulfill the judgment of God against Israel by the utter devastation of the Jews’ Holy City. In the carnage of Jerusalem, we can see not only the "signs" of Joel but also a prophetic type of the ultimate end of the world itself. Blood suggests the bloodshed that would occur. Fire suggests the burning of the city that could have produced billows of smoke that literally darkened the sun in the middle of the day. Also, the moon as viewed through smoke appears to be blood red. This answer to the prophecy is preferred by this writer, especially in view of the next verse, which allows us to know that there is salvation in the midst of this awful calamity for "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord."

Verse 21

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

This verse restores hope. In the midst of turmoil, there can still be found salvation in the Lord. Those Jews who became Christians were spared in the destruction of Jerusalem. Peter’s message not only applies to those Jews who are in immediate danger but to all the human race, from this time, until the end of time itself. The opportunity for salvation will be given to "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord."

And it shall come to pass: It is coming to pass literally as the apostle speaks.

that whosoever: The opportunity for salvation through Christ Jesus is universal. The call is to "whosoever will" (Revelation 22:17).

shall call on the name of the Lord: To "call upon the name of the Lord" involves more than simply saying the Lord’s name. Jesus says, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 7:21). He also says, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say" (Luke 6:46). To "call upon the name of the Lord" includes doing the Lord’s commandments (John 14:15; John 15:14; 1 John 2:3-5).

shall be saved: This passage refers to eternal salvation, not just to salvation from the destruction of Jerusalem.

Verse 22

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

After this initial opening address, the Apostle Peter now comes to the real theme of his message. He is ready to declare Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah whom the Jews have rejected. Little known to this motley audience of Israel’s most righteous or perhaps most self-righteous, they are about to be saddled with the guilt of not only failing to recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah but also bearing the responsibility for the grisly deed of putting Him to death.

Ye men of Israel: Literally, Luke addresses the descendants of Israel or Jacob. As in verse 14, Peter again calls for the attention of his audience, but this time he uses a name that refers to all of the Jews.

hear these words: After describing the prophecy of Joel, Peter now begins the second major point of his discourse in which he describes Jesus as Messiah and tells them how they should have recognized Him. He will conclude his sermon with a declaration of the very essence of the gospel: how Jesus dies, is buried, and rises again.

Jesus of Nazareth: No opportunity is to be missed in identifying Jesus to these Jews. Jesus is known as "a Nazarene" simply because he lived in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23). Jesus asks the Jews, in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth" (John 18:4-5). The Jews are never going to be allowed to forget "Jesus of Nazareth." This name will be declared as the source of power and authority for the miracles and teaching to be done from this day forward. It will be a name that transfixes the multitudes to believe in Him and haunts the rebellious in eternity. This by no means will be the last time these people hear the name Jesus of Nazareth.

a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Peter now begins to spew forth a staccato of undeniable facts about this hated "Nazarene," facts that will literally cut these Jews to the heart. One can almost feel the fervor of Peter as he rises to the task of convincing and convicting these Jews. Some of these very ones are guilty of crucifying Jesus. "In one breath, these Jews are reminded of the wondrous miracles and signs that Jesus wrought among them; they are charged with knowing this is true…" (McGarvey, Vol. I 30). Peter lets them know he will accept no excuses.

Verse 23

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God: The all knowing "wisdom of God ordained before the world" that the salvation of man will come as a result of the sacrifice of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:7). This statement confirms that when Jesus is delivered by the Jews to the Romans to be crucified, it is according to a definite plan executed by God (John 3:16).

ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Peter explains that some of the Jews in this audience are guilty of the willful death of Jesus:

While the hands that carried out the grisly work of crucifixion were the hands of "lawless men"–that is to say, the Romans, who were outside the range of the law received by Israel –yet the instigators of the act were Jews. It was the chief-priestly leaders of the people who engineered His death; it was the Jerusalem mob, egged on by those leaders, who yelled "Crucify him!" But all who took part, directly or indirectly, in putting Him to death were unconsciously fulfilling "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Bruce 70).

Verse 24

Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Here is a sharp contrast in what man did to Jesus and what God did for Him."Wicked men, "inspired by the arch-deceiver himself, assume incorrectly that if they can get rid of this troublesome "Nazarene, "their problems will be over. In reality, as the nails are being driven into the hands of Jesus, the nails are being driven into Satan’s coffin. The Apostle Paul reasons that if the princes of this world would have known of God’s great plan for the salvation of men through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, "they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory" (1 Corinthians 2:5-8). When Satan causes Jesus to be put to death, he seals his own fate and by the same act unleashes the "power of God unto salvation" (Revelation 20:10; Romans 1:16). Man crucifies Jesus; God "loosed the pains of death, " all "by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." The "mystery" of the ages, the "hidden wisdom" of God, has now been revealed for the eternal benefit of mankind (1 Corinthians 2:7).

Verses 25-28

For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

Peter continues his revelation of Jesus as the Christ and Savior by recalling the words of Psalms 16:8-11. Here he skillfully involves members of his audience in his speech by allowing them to fill in the blanks in David’s statement. Of whom does David speak? Is David referring to himself or to someone else? Although David speaks in first person, Peter will show that this "Holy One" who will not "see corruption" cannot be David. It is highly improbable that David would have ever considered himself as the "Holy One," especially with the shadow of Uriah and Bathsheba on his conscience. The thrust is to reveal Jesus and no one else as the promised Messiah.

Verse 29

Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

Men and brethren: Peter again asks for the careful attention of his audience. He tactfully addresses them as "men and brethren, "thus sharing a kinship with them.

let me freely speak unto you: Vincent explains the term "freely speak" as "speaking everything, and therefore without reserve" (454).

of the patriarch David: It is understood by the Jews that through the lineage of David, one would again arise to sit upon David’s throne to rule Israel. This promise is given in Psalms 132:11. The Jews have the idea of a literal, earthly kingdom. The fact that the kingdom of Jesus is "not of this world, " but rather a spiritual kingdom, becomes a major stumbling block to the Jews.

that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day: Here is the undeniable truth that "David is not the "Holy One" who would not "see corruption, " for he is still "dead and buried" even "unto this day." By now, the attention of the Jews should be off David, and they should have been looking for the correct "Holy One" of the Psalm.

Verse 30

Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

Therefore being a prophet: David is recognized as a prophet.

and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him: The reference is to Psalms 132:11 as noted in verse 29.

that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh: The promise is that through the fleshly lineage of David, Jesus Christ would come. Over a dozen times in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the "son of David" (Matthew 1:1; Matthew 12:23; Luke 18:38). For example, Paul says, "Concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3).

he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne: Peter has laid the foundation for the main point of the entire discourse. The Jews should be wondering, "If not David, who? Who is the "Christ" intended to assume the reign of David, in this new kingdom?"

Verse 31


He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of
Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ: David, speaking by direct inspiration from God, knew the reference was not to himself but to the Christ who was to come.

that his soul was not left in hell: The term "hell" does not refer to the place of eternal torment (Geenna) but rather to the word "Hades" defined by Thayer as "the common receptacle of disembodied spirits" (11-2-86).

neither his flesh did see corruption: The flesh of Jesus is not allowed to decay.

Verse 32

This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Jesus, a descendant of David, now has been raised to be ruler over God’s people:

I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations (Psalms 89:3-4).

And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever (2 Samuel 7:12-13).

In spite of this record and the evidence it affords, there are those today still looking for the kingdom of Jesus to come. They are looking in vain! The kingdom of Jesus was established during the lifetime of the apostles (Mark 9:1). The kingdom of Jesus on this earth is His church (Matthew 16:17-18) (see notes on 8:12; 17:7).

whereof we all are witnesses: The apostles are all witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus. This is one of the requirements necessary to be an apostle.

Verse 33

Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted: Peter answers an anticipated question, "Where is Jesus now?"He is"by the right hand of God."To be"by the right hand"is often used to indicate power (Psalms 17:7; Psalms 18:35). Thus, God has raised Jesus and has given Him power.

and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear: The events of Pentecost, just witnessed by the multitude, are the results of a promise made to the apostles by Jesus. These Jews have now seen and heard the results of that which "he hath shed forth" (see notes on 1:8).

Verse 34

For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

For David is not ascended into the heavens: Peter continues his argument that David does not ascend to heaven to take a seat at "the right hand of God"; instead these words point to Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of this prophecy. May it ever be declared "from henceforth shall the son of man be seated at the right hand of the power of God" (Luke 22:69).

he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand: David realizes he is not the one who is to sit on God’s right hand, but it will be Jesus:

This quotation from Psalms 110:1 indicated: (1) that the Son of David would also be the Lord of David (Matthew 22:43 ff), and (2) that the Son of David would sit on the right hand of God, an idiomatic promise of the ascension into heaven. Peter did not have to prove that David himself had not ascended to heaven, for his grave was still in Jerusalem (Coffman 53).

Verse 35

Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

More than likely, some of these same Jews have attempted to grapple with this thorny statement from David in a face-to-face confrontation with Jesus. Jesus asks them the question, "How could King David call his son Lord?" At that time "no man was able to answer him a word" (Matthew 22:43-46). Perhaps now some of these Jews have a better understanding. Peter is again declaring Jesus is the one who will reign until "the last enemy is destroyed." Paul explains this point: "For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).

Verse 36

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Therefore let all the house of Israel: Peter now addresses "all the house of Israel," indicating none are to be left out and affirming the gospel is to "the Jew first" (Romans 1:16).

know assuredly: With the accumulation of proof that has been presented, Israel should have been able to understand "Jesus is Lord."

that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified: Peter has no mercy on this crowd who "by wicked hands have crucified and slain" their long-looked-for Messiah. He lays the guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus squarely on the backs of these Jews. Peter certainly knows how to wield the "sword of the Spirit" so that it cuts the hearts of men.

both Lord and Christ: This is the conclusion and summation of the original gospel sermon. Jesus is"both Lord, "which signifies having power or authority, "and Christ, "literally the Anointed One or Messiah. This is the entire point of Peter’s sermon. It is Jesus who has the power to reign in the kingdom of God. It is Jesus who is the Messiah.

The facts are all in:

1. Jesus has been "approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs" (verse 22).

2. "God hath raised Him (Jesus) from the dead" (verse 24).

3. Jesus is the son of David (verse 30).

4. Jesus, not David, is at "the right hand of God" (verse 33).

5. Jesus, not David, is the "Holy One" exalted to reign over the kingdom of God (verse 34).

The witness of the apostles, the testimony of the prophets, and the preaching of the gospel have all combined to establish the Lordship of Jesus.

The term "Jesus is Lord" often is made common by our society. The words appear as graffiti, on barns, bumper stickers, etc., but these words, as spoken by the Apostle Peter, are to impact this old world as it has never been impacted before. Here is the turning point for time itself. Man, by the sacrifice of Jesus, the only begotten of God, is brought to the Light. Man, who has been shackled by the bonds of sin since the Garden of Eden, can finally realize the forgiveness of his sin. This realization, JESUS IS LORD, was to energize and motivate the disciples of the first century to carry the gospel to the whole world in less than thirty years! May we also realize Jesus as Lord of our lives.

Verse 37

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Now when they heard this: No doubt one could have heard a pin drop in this audience. The Jews have heard of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and the power of the gospel is lying heavily on the consciences of those assembled (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

they were pricked in their heart: The gospel has literally stung the hearts of these Jews. There is a new faith in the hearts of some. They have heard; now they believe in Jesus. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles: The fact that those "pricked in their heart" cry out to the apostles lends further evidence that only the apostles received the "baptism of the Holy Ghost" on Pentecost.

Men and brethren, what shall we do: Do about what? It is obvious when we remember what Peter has already taught in verse 21, "whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."These poor guilt-ridden souls want to know, "What must I do to be saved?"Herein is an amazing thing; these Jews, some personally guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus, have heard the gospel for the first time, and now they are clamoring to discover the gospel’s requirements for them.

What does Peter tell them they need to do in order to be saved? He most assuredly does not give them the same answer some people receive in our world today. He does not tell them to raise their hand, accept Jesus as their personal Savior and go on their way rejoicing, sign a prayer card, or join the church of their choice. In light of the answers we hear for this question today, some are no doubt surprised at Peter’s answer. In the mind of many, Peter’s answer would be called old fashioned, and that it is. It is the original answer to the age-old question, "What must I do to be saved?"

Verse 38

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Then Peter said unto them: For the first time under the reign of Christ, the question is asked; and without hesitation the terms of salvation are announced by Peter.

Repent: To repent is to change one’s mind so that a change of life is produced. Vine says, "In the N.T. the subject chiefly has reference to repentance from sin, and this change of mind involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God" (Vol. II. 281).

It should be noted that repentance is something a person does; it is not something one gets. In order to be saved, the Jews are expected to quit sinning and turn to God; no less is expected today.

and be baptized: The Jews are also instructed to be baptized. The very fact that baptism is a command allows us to understand that this baptism is water baptism. The baptism of the Holy Ghost, as we have already noticed, was the result of a promise. Baptism in water is the "one baptism" that is required of all would-be Christians (Ephesians 4:5). For the mode of baptism, see notes on Acts 8:38.

Interestingly enough, baptism is the one command most often neglected in all of the so-called Christian world; yet it is the only requirement that is mentioned in every act of conversion throughout the book of Acts. As surely as Peter fulfilled the great commission by demanding baptism in this initial gospel sermon, so also must baptism be taught and obeyed today (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16) (see notes on 8:12).

Notice the Bible record for the benefits of baptism:

1. You must be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16).

2. Baptism is "for the remission of sins" (2:38).

3. Baptism will "wash sins away" (22:16).

4. Baptism puts one "into Christ" (Galatians 3:27).

5. Baptism saves us (1 Peter 3:21).

Garth Reese states the point very plainly: "If Christ commanded baptism, and He did (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16); and if one believes it necessary to keep a command of Christ to be saved, then baptism is necessary to salvation" (63).

every one of you: The requirements, "repent and be baptized, "are the same requirements for "every one." It should also be noted that the blessings, "the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost, "are given to" every one."

in the name of Jesus Christ: In most cases the word, "name" (onoma), whether used with the preposition in, upon, or into, means with or by the authority of (Matthew 18:20; Matthew 28:19; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48).

for the remission of sins: For years there has been much dispute over the meaning of this phrase. The truth hinges upon the meaning of the word "for." In the Greek, the word rendered "for" is the little word eis. Does eis mean "because of" as some would maintain? We are baptized "because of the remission of sins." Or does "eis" mean "for" or "in order to "or "unto" the remission of sins as others would say? The dilemma is easily answered by a little Bible research. In the book of Matthew we find the exact phrase we are studying here in Acts 2:38. Jesus says, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28).

Does "for" (eis) the remission of sins in Matthew mean that Jesus shed His blood because of the remission of sins, or does "for" (eis) the remission of sins in Matthew mean that Jesus shed His blood "for, " "in order to" or "unto" the remission of sins? The conclusion is easy: we know Jesus did not shed His blood because of the remission of sins. It is equally clear that baptism is "for," "in order to," or "unto" the remission of sins.

As long as this verse remains in the sacred NT, the terms of admission into Christ’s kingdom shall continue to be understood as faith (those were already believers), repentance, and baptism unto the remission of sins (Coffman 55).

The nay sayers may shout themselves hoarse as did the priests of Baal, the rebellious may wrestle the scriptures for a life time, but the truth of God’s word stands: baptism in water for the remission of sins is a divinely appointed prerequisite for salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).

and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. This text is often debated as to the modus operandi of the Holy Spirit. It will be the purpose of this writer to attempt to answer some of the questions that arise relative to this statement. We want to know: Who will receive this "gift"? What is the "gift of the Holy Ghost"? How does the Holy Spirit dwell in the Christian?

In this verse we find two commands expected of those who would obey God’s will and two blessings that are a result of obedience to those commands. "Repent, and be baptized" are the commands; "the remission of sins" and the "gift of the Holy Ghost" are the blessings. It is clearly seen that the first blessing, "the remission of sins, "is the result of baptism; "Repent and be baptized ...for (in order to, unto) the remission of sins."The second blessing is in the form of a promise:"and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Who is to receive this promised "gift of the Holy Ghost"? A look at the context will supply the answer."Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you ... for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."To whom is Peter speaking?"Every one of you "who will "repent and be baptized…shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." This promise will be extended to "as many as the Lord our God shall call" in the next verse.

Peter is speaking to thousands of people on this occasion, and the language is addressed to each person present. To whom are the commands issued? They are issued to everyone. To whom would the remission of sins be given? The remission of sins would be given to everyone who would repent and be baptized. To whom would the"gift of the Holy Spirit"be given? Everyone who would repent and be baptized would receive the"gift of the Holy Spirit." Three thousand people, according to verse 41, receive the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Wayne L. Fussell 262).

What is the gift of the Holy Ghost? This question may also be answered by a careful study of God’s word. The Holy Spirit used language that is very specific to tell us what the "gift" is.

Gift" (dorea) With an epexegetical genitive of the thing given, viz. Acts 2:38; Acts 10:45; (Thayer 161-2-1431).

In Acts 2:38, "the gift of the Holy Ghost, "the clause is epexegetical, the gift being the Holy Ghost Himself (Vine, Vol. I 147).

As noted in these definitions, the"gift of the Holy Ghost"is the Holy Ghost. Both Thayer and Vine explain that the word"gift"is added to clarify the object. Thus, the phrase"gift of the Holy Ghost"is epexegetical. Webster defines epexegetical as a means of further clarification as by the addition of a word or words (610). The word"gift"is added to clarify what the Holy Ghost is. What words could the apostle have used to make this teaching any plainer? He could have simply said, "You shall receive the Holy Spirit, " but he clarifies this promise by adding the word"gift."The"Holy Ghost"is the"gift."

The Biblical scholarship of the world agrees, "the gift of the Holy Ghost"is the Holy Ghost. We have already noted Thayer and Vine but also:

The second blessing promised on condition of repentance and baptism, is the"gift of the Holy Spirit."By this is not meant that miraculous gift which had just been bestowed upon the apostles; for we know from the subsequent history that this gift was not bestowed on all who repented and were baptized, but on only a few brethren of prominence in the several congregations. The expression means the Holy Spirit as a gift; and the reference is to that indwelling of the Holy Spirit by which we bring forth the fruits of the spirit, and without which we are not of Christ (McGarvey, Vol. I 39).

The phrase"the gift of the Holy Ghost"occurs Acts 2:38; Acts 10:45, and in both places must be understood as equivalent to" the Holy Spirit as a gift, "yet we are persuaded that the same measure of the Spirit is not alluded to in both places (Brents 474).

The gift of the Spirit is the Spirit Himself, bestowed by the Father through the Messiah (Bruce 77).

The genitive is appositional; as in verse 33 the promise is the Holy Spirit, so here the gift is the Holy Spirit (Lenski 109)

It should be apparent by the language used that the inspired apostle intends for us to understand"the gift of the Holy Ghost"is the Holy Ghost Himself. This understanding eliminates the need to discuss the issue as to whether the"gift"is something the Holy Spirit gives. The answer is clear: the"gift"is not something from the Holy Spirit, as one of the gifts of the Spirit, but rather the"gift"IS the Holy Spirit.

Is it possible that the"gift of the Holy Spirit"is eternal life or perhaps salvation? No. It should be understood by all that when one repents, and is baptized he is not automatically assured of eternal life or salvation. Obedience to the gospel simply allows one to run in the Christian race; it does not guarantee the reward. The outcome depends on the faithfulness of the individual.

May it also be noted that the"gift of the Holy Ghost"is not an empowerment by the Holy Spirit that will allow the recipient to work miracles. If that were the case, "everyone"who repents and is baptized will have received the"remission of sins"and the power to work miracles, not only those present on Pentecost, but as verse 39 continues"the promise is unto ... even as many as the Lord our God shall call. If the "gift of the Holy Spirit" means miraculous gifts, we may claim miraculous gifts in fulfillment of this promise today! This result did not happen because "everyone" did not receive miraculous gifts. If they did receive miraculous gifts, what would have been the need for the laying on of the apostles’ hands? If the "gift" were the result of the laying on of the apostles’ hands, the apostles would have had to lay their hands on "every one" who was a baptized believer as well as laying their hands on "as many as the Lord our God shall call." The concept that the "gift" is a miraculous gift is not in keeping with the evidence found in God’s word. Reese, in his excellent commentary, summarizes these thoughts thusly:

There is no suggestion here in 2:38 that the reception of the Holy Spirit by those who were immersed was conditioned upon having apostolic hands laid upon them. Further, the word "gift" here is "dorea, " whereas the word used when spiritual gifts are intended is "charisma." Nor can the meaning be that every new convert receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The thing received, therefore, by the new converts was the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (64).

We are now ready to consider one final question. How does this wonderful "gift of the Holy Spirit" dwell in Christians? The concept of the Holy Spirit’s dwelling in the Christian is generally accepted by Bible students. The question is, "How does He dwell in the Christian?" Basically there are two ideas concerning the answer to this question. There are those who believe the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian through the word of God only. This explanation falls short of the evidence revealed by the Bible. On the day of Pentecost, those who repented and were baptized had already "gladly received the"word" (Acts 2:41). It was the"word"that"pricked"them"in their heart" (Acts 2:37). They were encouraged to"save themselves, … with many other words" (Acts 2:40). All of this happened before they were baptized"for the remission of sins"or received the"gift of the Holy Ghost."The conclusion can be drawn that one may have the word of God and still not have the"gift of the Holy Ghost."Who has not witnessed the religious racketeer who makes merchandise of God’s word; the false teacher who, by twisting and wrestling the scriptures, deceives many; or even the arch deceiver, Satan himself, who historically has shown a great knowledge of God’s word by misquoting and contradicting? These may be full of the word; but, without contradiction, they have not the Holy Spirit.

The conclusion that we are led to by the divinely inspired word should now be clear. The"gift"is the Holy Spirit Himself Who comes to dwell in the heart of every Christian.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:9).

And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him (Acts 5:32).

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19)?

These are but a few of the many passages that inform us of this truth (see also 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:12-13). One of the basic rules of Bible interpretation is that words must be understood in their literal sense unless such literal interpretation creates a contradiction or absurdity. The passages cited above create neither a contradiction nor an absurdity. They should be taken literally. All of the expressions–"The Spirit of God dwell in you"; "the Holy Ghost whom God hath given to them who obey Him"; "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost ... which is in you, "– tell us the Holy Spirit literally dwells in us. What language could God have used, other than these words, to communicate that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian?

To summarize this lengthy commentary, "the gift of the Holy Spirit"in Acts 2:38 is the Holy Spirit Himself."Every one"who is commanded to"repent, and be baptized ... for the remission of sins, "is also given the promise of the Holy Spirit as a "gift." The "gift of the Holy Spirit, " which is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every Christian, has no reference to the miraculous gifts of the Spirit given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. The Holy Spirit dwells literally in every Christian as a result of this promise. (Note parallel verses in John 3:5 and Titus 3:5.)

Verse 39

For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

For the promise: The promise referred to is the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul makes reference to this promise:

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, ... (Ephesians 1:13).

is unto you: "You" is a reference to the Jews in Peter’s audience.

and to your children: The "promise" is also to future generations of Jews.

and to all that are afar off: Those "afar off" is a reference to the Gentiles. Here the apostle makes a statement, by inspiration, that he really does not understand. The concept of the Gentiles being acceptable to God is unthought of by the Jews, especially by the Apostle Peter. It will take a miracle later to allow Peter to see the truth of the words he has spoken (Acts 10:14-15).

even as many as the Lord our God shall call: The gospel call is universal. The promise is for all who will come in compliance with God’s terms. In the Christian age, there is to be no distinction made in nationality, race, sex, social status: the invitation is to "whosoever will" (Revelation 22:17). Peter will teach later in this book, "… Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34-35).

Here is additional information that allows us to know the "gift of the Holy Ghost" is for "as many as the Lord our God shall call." The same "gift of the Holy Ghost, " that is given on Pentecost, is given today to those who will "repent, and be baptized." That gift is the personal indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit.

Verse 40

And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

And with many other words did he testify and exhort: Luke, in his record of the events of Pentecost, has given us a summary of Peter’s sermon. Peter has revealed Jesus as the Messiah. He has answered the question that has haunted man up to this point in history, "what shall we do" to be saved? The initiative for salvation now rests with men.

saying, Save yourselves: May this passage lay to rest forever the notion that we must beg God to save us. The concept of the "mourners’ bench" where the alien sinner is encouraged to plead with God for salvation is foreign to the scriptures. When it comes to man’s salvation, God has provided the sacrifice for sin and the plan for salvation; He has literally held the world on course that man might have the time to obey (2 Peter 3:9). It is up to man to make the move. If one is lost, it is no one’s fault but his own. Man is responsible for his own salvation.

from this untoward generation: "Untoward" (skolios) means crooked; "it is set in contrast to (orthos) and (euthus), straight" (Vine, Vol. IV 256). Luke is literally saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation."

Verse 41

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: When the gospel seed is sown in good and honest hearts, fruit is produced. When God’s word is received, it requires obedience; as seen here, they "were baptized." It will be noted throughout the study of the book of Acts that every time the gospel is received in the hearts of men, they are baptized. Why are they always baptized? They are baptized for the remission of sins.

and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls: What a revival! On this day, some 3000 Jews throw off the darkness, bondage, and death of the Old Testament and leap out into the light, freedom, and life provided under the New Testament of Jesus Christ. Man truly has been revived and given hope.

These 3000 new converts "were added" unto the company of the apostles and the 120 disciples (1:15). This, thus far, nameless community of believers is the first body of Christians.

Incidental to this verse, there are those who dispute baptism as immersion in water by saying it would not have been possible for the twelve to immerse three thousand in one day. Sadly, it seems there are always scoffers lining the banks, ready to say something in contradiction to God’s word. To discover what a lame objection this is, please note the following calculations:

Peter’s sermon began at nine o’clock, and we may safely suppose that the proceedings at the temple closed as early as noon. This allows six hours for the baptizing to be completed that day, as the text asserts. It is very deliberate work for an administrator to baptize one person in a minute; and if he stands at one spot, as is often the case when a large number are to be baptized, and has the candidates to come and go in a continuous line, the work can be done in half this time. But, at the rate of sixty to the hour, twelve men could baptize seven hundred and twenty in one hour, and three thousand in four hours and a quarter (McGarvey, Vol. I 44).

Verse 42

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

And they continued stedfastly: These disciples are regular and consistent in their new opportunities and responsibilities.

in the apostles’ doctrine: This "doctrine" points to the word of God being taught by the apostles.

and fellowship: This fellowship is their opportunity to share in religious privileges as well as to be a part of the family of God. They are now brothers and sisters in Christ and sons and daughters of God. The original term for fellowship is broader than our idea of fellowship today. It includes the concept of contribution and probably carried with it the idea of the sharing of material goods.

and in breaking of bread: The "breaking of bread" is an expression referring to the regular observation of the Lord’s supper, which is celebrated on a weekly basis (Acts 20:7).

and in prayers: Prayer is the hallmark of the Christian. These new disciples are taking advantage of praying together.

Verse 43

And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

The fear that comes upon the people in general is not a terror that produces an aversion to the disciples but rather the awe and respect naturally inspired by a group manifesting miracles, reverence for God, and a new found direction toward holy living.

Here also is further proof that the only ones possessing miraculous abilities are the apostles. The "wonders and signs were done by the apostles, " not the 120 or the new converts.

Verse 44

And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

The effect of Christianity on the individual should produce a telling change. This is very much the case in Jerusalem.

This conduct was in marked contrast with the neglect of the poor which was then common among the Jews, in violation of their own law, and which was universal among the Gentiles (McGarvey, Vol. I 48).

Verse 45

And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

The needs of all are taken care of. These fledgling disciples have already recognized the badge of Christianity. Jesus gives a hallmark for Christians when He says, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).

Verse 46

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple: The Jewish temple is the assembling place for the disciples. The courts of the temple are open at all times. It provides an ideal place for these first Christians to assemble, not only because of the room but also because the Jews gathered there, thus giving the opportunity to expose others to the gospel.

and breaking bread from house to house: This breaking of bread is not in reference to the communion service, as is verse 42, but to a common meal.

did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart: This verse describes the sheer joy the disciples have in being together. They rejoice in sharing meals together.

Verse 47

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Praising God, and having favour with all the people: This group of young Christian disciples continue to praise God and make a good impression on the community.

And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved: The words, "to the church, " are not in the Greek. The idea is that daily men and women who become believers are joined together into the one body. The Greek is "epi to auto," the very same phrase translated "were together" in verse 44" (Reese 71). The first time the word "church" (ekklesia) appears in the original text of the book of Acts is in chapter five at verse 11. (Please see notes on 5:11 for additional notes on "the church.")

When one becomes "such as should be saved," the Lord adds him to the church (the body of believers). The condition for entrance is obedience to the gospel, which includes baptism"for the remission of sins."The requirements are the same today. When one obeys the gospel, we are not to take a vote to see if we want to accept him; he does not"join the church"; upon obedience, the Lord adds him to His church.

The "saved" are in the church. Never forget the church is not a physical building, rather it is an assembly of people who are "such as should be saved."The word used in this verse that is translated "church" is literally "assembly" (New Englishman’s Greek Concordance and Lexicon 253).

It is a blatant strike against the Lord’s church when one says, "You don’t have to be a member of any church to be saved’" or "No church ever saved anyone." Again, the truth shines through, if I want to be saved, I must be a part of the Lord’s church because the "such as should be saved" are in the church.

Perhaps there is one other question that needs to be addressed at this point in our study. To which "church" are these "such as should be saved" being added? Imagine one of these first converts to Christianity wiping the water of baptism from his eyes and asking Peter, "Of which church am I now a member?" Peter might have pushed his head back under the water and held him until he came to a more perfect understanding! Today this might be a legitimate question as there are more than a thousand different denominations each claiming to be the church that Christ built. Remember these facts:

1. Christ referred to the church as "my church," very possessively his (Matthew 16:18).

2. Christ purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28).

3. Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23).

4. The church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23).

With all candor, does this church not have to be Christ’s church or the church of Christ? Where did we ever get the idea of the "church of your choice" (Romans 16:16)?

What a chapter this one has been. Literally, it is the turning point for the whole world. This working, happy church will soon feel the onslaught of Satan as he works through the religious people of that day to discourage and disperse the Lord’s people.

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Acts 2". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/acts-2.html. 1993-2022.
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